The Conservative Movement's Greening Initiative
A project of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, the initiative kicks off with a solar Ner Tamid, or eternal light, for synagogues, and soy-based Shabbat eco-candles for home use. ...
A third prong is encouraging community support for carbon offset programs in North America and Israel. The programs involve planting trees, cleaning rivers and performing other environmentally sustainable actions.
The fourth component is using biodegradable building and food service supplies. A joint purchasing agreement is in place to help Conservative institutions buy such products in bulk instead of non-reusable plates, cups and utensils.
“Being green is a Jewish imperative,” said Rabbi Charles Simon, the executive director of the men’s club federation. “Our goal is to reduce synagogue, and congregant and community energy usage, and promote the use of sustainable energy.”
It's nice to see that the Conservative movement is taking practical steps on important issues. (See last month's post about Hekhsher Tzedek.) But as the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) noted in a news release, "as praiseworthy as their initiative is, we respectfully believe that they are ignoring a major contributor to current environmental threats: animal-based agriculture." Click here to read more about the connection between animal agriculture and environmental devastation.
The JVNA news release adds, "It is essential that our rabbis and other Jewish leaders recognize that a major shift toward plant-based diets is essential to avoid the unparalleled disaster that the world is rapidly approaching and to move our precious, but imperiled, planet to a sustainable path. It is urgent that tikkun olam-the healing and repair of the world -- be a central issue in synagogues, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions. Judaism has splendid teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability, and it is essential that they be applied to respond to the many current environmental threats."
Looking for more information? Check out the JVNA's award-winning documentary, A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.